Sunday, 27 May 2012

The week in brief (21 - 27 May)

Bit of a step down from the 17 films listed last week - this time around I watched a rather more modest 6 movies. Of those 6, 3 were good, 2 bad and 1 mediocre. The line up was as follows:

Horrible Bosses (2011): 6/10
Malcolm X (1992): 8/10
Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor) (2004): 4/10
Eyes Wide Shut (1999): 8/10
Valhalla Rising (2009): 4/10
Moonrise Kingdom (2012): 8/10

First up, the good. Both Malcolm X and Eyes Wide Shut are films with exceptionally long running times, and as a person who ordinarily has the attention span of a goldfish, I wasn't entirely sure I'd be able to see them through in one sitting. That I did so, and in fact (in both cases) was completely absorbed by the film for the duration, is a testament to the quality of both of the pictures. Eyes Wide Shut in particular is a fascinating film. I had thought it would consist of a long drawn out argument between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, but that's just the tip of the iceberg: the plot sees Tom Cruise's doctor taken to strange and disturbing places, as he catches a glimpse of a hidden underworld involving many prominent members of New York high society.  It's a fitting way for Stanley Kubrick to sign off his life as a director, with echoes of many of his earlier films: we have Regency costumes (Barry Lyndon), a promiscuous teenager (Lolita), disturbing, phallic masks (A Clockwork Orange) and a sinister butler (The Shining). If I was to slot the film into my Kubrick top ten, I think I'd put it seventh, just below A Clockwork Orange.

Also highly recommended this week: Wes Anderson's latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom. I'm a big fan of Anderson's first few pictures (Rushmore in particular), but I wasn't as keen on The Darjeeling Limited or Fantastic Mr Fox. Moonrise Kingdom sees Wes get back on track - it's sweet, touching, and beautifully shot, with two winning performances from the two young lead actors (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward). They're helped by an astonishing ensemble of brilliant actors in supporting roles, including Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzmann.

Now we move on to the bad: I regret to say that I really didn't enjoy Night Watch or Valhalla Rising. The former is just a confusing, incoherent mess, which is only partly redeemed by a few impressive action set pieces. The latter was a bigger disappointment for me - I've liked pretty much everything Nicolas Winding Refn has done to date (particularly Drive), but Valhalla Rising has to be one of the most tedious films I've had the misfortune of sitting through in quite some time. Although it has a running time which is less than half that of Malcolm X, it felt like the movie had lasted for days. It was a real endurance contest for me to get to the end without drifting off to sleep.

No list this week, but as it's a Bank Holiday weekend coming up, I should have plenty of time to put another top 10 together shortly...

Kirk's Quote of the Week

Rushmore (1998)

"Max Fischer: So tell me Curly, how do you know Miss Cross?
Dr. Peter Flynn : We went to Harvard together.
Max Fischer : Oh that's great. I wrote a hit play and directed it, so I'm not sweating it either."

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